Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Taking stock

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. A good chance to take a few days off and relax a little bit. A good opportunity to take stock and look at where I'm at (and where I've come from.) Let's break it down:

Overall health:

This is a big positive for me. Since the beginning of the year I've lost almost 20 pounds, from the mid 180s down to the mid 160s. I can attribute that to a big change in my diet and more consistent training. Because of that, my cholesterol levels have dropped from "dangerously high" to "acceptable-borderline."

Sport specific:

Run -- No doubt that the big story here is my knee. After an injury in March, I had microfracture repair surgery to the femural articular cartilage of my left knee. After six months, I'm back to running at nearly 100% function. Performance has suffered, but I've built back up to a one-hour run at a steady 10-11 minute/mile pace.

Biking -- Again, the knee surgery pretty much killed the summer riding season for me. Since surgery, I've had a long ride of 40 miles and I was right about the middle of my age group at the Giant Acorn Sprint Tri. I think this is going to have to be the point of emphasis if I want a good finish at Eagleman.

Swimming -- This is the brightest spot for me. I lost the least amount of time in training and have increased the yardage I've been doing from about 4000 yards/week to 6000+/week. Those aren't epic numbers, but enough for solid improvement. I'm holding ~1:45/100 yard pace for long swims (1750 yards +). I'm not going to rule out being able to get that down into the 1:30 range.

Mental health:

A lot of things need to go right if I want to suceed in the upcoming year. The key to making it happen is going to have to be good mental focus. I've got to train consistently, with the proper mental focus and determination. Most importantly, I've got to remember that all of my decisions will impact my performance. I've got to eat right, get enough sleep, and stick to my schedule even when I'm thinking about wimping out. Having a coach is a big help, since it takes the stress of coming up with the plan off of me. I just have to execute it!

Fortunately I've given myself plenty of time to put it all together. So I'll take a few days easy, then kick it back into gear for December.


Keep me honest -- check out my training log.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time trial

I read an interesting discussion once about the subject of LSD (Long Slow Distance) in swimming. Why, it was asked, don't we do that in swimming? It's part of our bike and run training, why not do it in the pool?

A good question that I'm not qualified to answer. But they had a point -- pool time is all about intervals and drills, very little about just swimming long distance -- at least in my experience.

Sometimes I like to break out of that and just do a long swim to check out how I'm doing. When I was preparing for my first sprint tri, I did several 800 yard swims to overcome the mental "How can I swim a half mile?" barrier. The mental barrier was there, even though at the time I was doing about 2000 yards in a workout -- I just wasn't doing it all at once.

The swim was a very positive experience. I didn't fear the distance anymore, and had a good feel for the pace I needed to go.

This summer I had a similiar experience when I did a mile swim. I found that I could hold a pretty good pace for a fairly long time with no problems -- better than I expected, actually. Since then, my swimming has been improving steadily.

To prepare for my 1/2 IM in June, I'm going to do one 2100 yard time trial each month as a check and confidence builder. The first one is done: 37:27 for 2100 yards. A respectable 1:47/100 pace. And the best part? I felt like I was getting off easy. Maybe next time I'll throw in a set of 10x100 when I'm done!


Check for yourself -- my training log.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

7 months to go!

Pretty close, at least. The Eagleman 70.3 Triathlon is on June 10, 2007, so you'll excuse me the one extra day.

I've surprised myself with what a long-term project I've made of this. Initially I figured I'd get my knee back up to speed, and then get some coaching about 4 months ahead of the event to get ready. Instead, I started working with Coach Debi back in August, letting her guide my return to competition, and I've been working consistently ever since, gradually increasing the amount and intensity of training.

November is dedicated to maintaining on my bike while increasing the run total weekly time and single run distance. The goal is to work up to 120 minutes of running per week, with a long run of 60 minutes by the end of the month. That'll put me right about where I was before the injury. I'm not increasing my swim time much, though I'm getting more distance in as I get speedier. This week's swim total was 6200 yards, a personal best for me.

But it's all about the base at this point. Back in August Debi had me doing 4-1/2 to 5 hours of training a week, working every day. It felt like a lot. Now I'm up to 6-1/2 to 7 hours per week, and my body doesn't feel like it's under any more stress than it was at the beginning -- if anything, less. Training is a well-integrated part of my daily routine, and I feel surprisingly fresh at the end of most workouts -- no doubt my fitness is improving.

Knock on wood -- if I can stay injury free and stick with the program, I think I'll be pleased with the results.


Check for yourself -- my training log.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Speedy swimming

OK, "speedy" is a relative term, but my swimming progress has been very encouraging to me. Recently I've been able to increase my swim distance a bit by doing my Thursday morning session very early in the day. Yeah, it's not a lot of fun to get in the pool at 5:45 AM, but that gives me enough time to swim somewhere in the 3000-3500 yard range. Add that to the 2500 or so at Master's on Monday, and I'm getting in a solid 5500 to 6000 yards a week.

I had to miss my Master's class today because of a meeting, so I used one of my coach's plans and did 2500 yards at lunch. There was a 400 yard swim in the middle, so I did it for time, and slipped in under 7 minutes, at 6:55. That's a PR for me, and a good one, considering it was right after a set of 8 x 50.

Not blazing fast, by any means, but stronger and smoother all the time. 1:45/100 is no sweat any more, at least for this distance. Think I'll try to work in an 800 time trial some time soon and see how I'm doing -- bet I can get it done in under 14!


For full details, check the training log.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Slow and steady

One of the unexpected benefits of my knee surgery has been that's taught me patience in my running. Before surgery, I tended to look at each run as a race against the clock for a new PR. I mean, if I ran that 3-mile loop in 26:22 last week, shouldn't I try to do it in 26:15 today?

Of course, training doesn't really work that way. The key is to build a strong base with a lot of aerobic running that doesn't beat up the body, then when the base is strong, add on tempo runs and speedwork. Easier said than done -- at least for me. Almost without fail I've beat myself up too much during my running, sacrificing the base by jumping right into tempo and speed work.

Recovering from my surgery meant a lot of short slow runs, done on flat surfaces, with ample walking breaks. But surprisingly, when I finally got back to racing, my 5K time in a sprint tri was faster than I'd done the year before, when I ran hard, but not consistently.

So bring on those slow and easy runs -- nothing like a cool fall morning, trotting along with the dog at a nice 10 min/mile pace. The speed can come later.


Check out my blinding run speed in the training log.